Page 1

“An exciting and comprehensive look at the Italian kitchen. This book
me want to be a student again!” ANNE BURRELL chef and TV personality

MARIO BATALI chef, author, entrepreneur

Cesare Casella, a celebrated Italian chef, has been dean of the School of Italian Studies since its opening in 2006. He has been chef at a number of renowned New York establishments, including Salumeria Rosi, his salumi shop and restaurant. Chef Casella has appeared on the television programs After Hours, No Reservations, Molto Mario, and Top Chef, among others. He has written three cookbooks—Diary of a Tuscan Chef, Italian Cooking for Dummies, and True Tuscan—and has been featured in such publications as Gourmet, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Saveur.


Stephanie Lyness is a chef, food writer, and regional food critic for the New York Times. She developed the curriculum for the School of Italian Studies with Cesare Casella and has collaborated on cookbooks such as Delicious Memories: Recipes and Stories from the Chef Boyardee Family, Deceptively Delicious, and Indian Home Cooking. She lives in Connecticut. Matthew Septimus is a Brooklyn-based photographer who works frequently with The International Culinary Center. He has taught at the International Center of Photography, the New School, and Unseen America, and has collaborated with Pentagram, the New York Times, and the Museum of Modern Art. Jacket photographs © 2012 Matthew Septimus Jacket design by Liam Flanagan


“Working with The International Culinary Center, Dean Cesare Casella—il maestro di tutti, with his signature pocketful of rosemary—has put together an encyclopedic user’s-guide to the elements, techniques, and, most important, the mouthfeel and flavor of Italian cooking. In doing so, they have elevated the ordinary textbook to an art form. This spectacular vision of all that is Italian and delicious will take its place among the handful of most used books in my collection.”


The International Culinary Center, founded as The French Culinary Institute in 1984, is one of the world’s leaders in culinary education. With locations in New York, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Parma, Italy, the Center offers cutting-edge curriculums that produce worldclass graduates. The School of Italian Studies is one of the most authentic Italian culinary programs in the country. Its 28-week curriculum divides course time between New York or California and Italy.

U.S. $80.00 CAN. $92.00 U.K. £50.00

115 West 18th Street New York, NY 10011 Printed in China

ISBN ISBN 978-1-58479-990-0 978-1-58479-990-0

9 781584 799900


stewart tabori & chang



U.S. $80.00 CAN. $92.00 U.K. £50.00

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine is a comprehensive guide to traditional Italian cooking. In this book, the skills needed to render the flavors and details of classic Italian recipes are expertly taught by Dean Cesare Casella. Based on the curriculum of The International Culinary Center’s School of Italian Studies, this indispensable book breaks down the techniques of Italian cooking in a way that will appeal to home cooks as well as professionals. The book begins with an overview of the Italian meal and a full description of the primary ingredients used in Italian cooking. More than two hundred classic recipes follow, beginning with a mouthwatering array of antipasti and culminating in a spectacular variety of desserts. Chapters on cheese-making, stocks and basic sauces, rustic soups, pasta, risotto, pizza and breads, meats, fish and shellfish, and vegetables offer all manner of primo and secondo courses in between. The final section of the book is a compendium of professional techniques, with a detailed discussion of each technique and a description of how it is taught at The International Culinary Center. These “lessons” are illustrated with hundreds of step-by-step photographs, and also include information about restaurant organization and practices. This section may be used in conjunction with the recipes in the book, as an aid when cooking from other cookbooks, or on its own, as inspiration.


Ravioli di Ricotta e Bietola Ravioli with Swiss Chard and Ricotta


Serves 3 to 4 These ravioli are stuffed with a Swiss chard filling flavored with ricotta and Grana Padano and bound with an egg. The Swiss chard leaves are blanched (see “Le Tecniche: Sbianchire” on page 62) in heavily salted boiling water, chilled rapidly in a bowl of ice water, then squeezed out well—first by hand and then in cheesecloth—to prevent the filling mixture from being too wet. The ravioli are sauced with melted butter into which the flavors of marjoram and thyme have been infused, but tomato sauce makes an excellent alternative. (See pages 367 and 375, respectively, for step-by-step instructions for making pasta and shaping and filling ravioli. See sidebar “Draining Ricotta” on page 68).

Ingredients For the ricotta filling: 100 grams (3 cups) firmly packed, stemmed Swiss chard leaves 25 grams (1¾ tablespoons) unsalted butter or olive oil Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 200 grams (¾ cup) ricotta, hung overnight in cheesecloth to drain 15 grams (3 tablespoons) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano 1 large egg yolk 1 teaspoon chopped fresh marjoram Freshly ground nutmeg For the ravioli: 1 recipe Pasta all’Uovo (page 94), refrigerated 30 minutes and brought to room temperature Semolina, for dusting the sheet pan All-purpose flour, for dusting the work surface


For serving: Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 100 grams (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter 3 sprigs fresh thyme 3 sprigs fresh oregano 40 grams (½ cup) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano

Make the ricotta filling: Blanch (sbianchire) the chard, drain, chill in a bowl of ice water, drain once more, and squeeze in your hands to force out the water. Wrap the chard in cheesecloth and twist to squeeze out as much water as possible. Melt the butter in a skillet (padella) over medium heat. Add the blanched chard. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook to dry out the chard and cook off as much water as possible. Chop the chard and let cool. Transfer to a bowl. Add the drained ricotta, grated cheese, egg yolk, marjoram, and nutmeg. Mix with a fork to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roll and fill the ravioli: Scoop the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip; set aside. Following the instructions in the recipe for Pasta all'Uovo on page 94, roll the pasta dough out into a thin sheet, using the thinnest setting on the pasta machine. (The pasta sheet should be about 10 centimeters / 4 inches wide.) Dust a parchment paper–lined sheet pan with flour. Dust a work surface with flour, and lay the pasta sheet on the surface. Pipe rounds of filling about 4 centimeters (1½ inches) apart all along the bottom third of the dough strip. Brush the bottom half of the pasta strip with water.

Chef’s Notes The quality of the ricotta is essential in this recipe: The cheese should be sweet smelling, with a delicate flavor, and it should melt in the mouth. The chard is chopped after sautÊing to prevent little bits from sticking to the skillet. Frozen ravioli need not be thawed before cooking. Count on 3 to 4 minutes extra cooking time.

Fold the top half of the sheet over the filling so that the top and bottom edges meet and gently press around the filling to press out any air pockets and seal the filling rounds. Starting at the folded edge and cutting down toward the bottom, cut between the rounds of filling to make the ravioli. Trim with a pasta cutter as necessary. Set the ravioli on the prepared sheet pan. Sprinkle with semolina. Continue to roll, cut, and fill the remaining ravioli. The ravioli may be refrigerated, in a single layer covered with plastic wrap, for up to several hours, or frozen.

Working in batches, cook the ravioli in the boiling water until tender, 2 to 4 minutes (if it is freshly made, it will only take about 2 minutes). Remove with a wide skimmer, spider (ragno), or slotted spoon, reserving a little of the pasta cooking water. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the herbs and cook gently to flavor the butter, 3 to 5 minutes. (If the butter gets too warm and begins to brown, add a little pasta water.) Add the ravioli and enough of the pasta water to bathe the ravioli. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cook, swirling the pan, to reduce the water and emulsify the sauce.

To serve: Sprinkle with the cheese and serve. Bring a large pot (pentola) of salted water to a boil.



Risotto alla Milanese

Bring the stock to a simmer in a saucepan (casseruola); adjust the heat so that the stock remains at a bare simmer.

Risotto with Saffron


Serves 4 The addition of saffron lends a lovely golden-yellow hue to this risotto. Saffron was historically used as a yellow-orange dye. During the years 1572 through 1576, the Flemish glass painter Valerio da Profondavalle was reported to have used saffron in his pigments to make the stained-glass windows of the Duomo in Milan more vibrant. When he wed, his apprentice allegedly added saffron to his master’s risotto as a joke. Risotto alla Milanese is a classic accompaniment to Ossobuco (page 189)—one of the rare examples in the Italian repertoire of a primo being served with a main course. (See “To Prepare Marrow” on page 423 for step-bystep instructions.)

Heat 30 grams (2 tablespoons) of the butter with the oil in a heavy-bottomed saucepan (casseruola) over medium heat. Add the onion and pancetta, if using, and cook until the onion is softened but not colored, about 2 minutes. Add the rice, season to taste with salt, and cook, stirring, until it smells toasted and is hot to the touch. If using the marrow, add it 1 minute into the cooking of the rice. Add the wine and cook until evaporated. Add simmering stock just to cover the rice. Crumble in the saffron threads and simmer at a lively pace, stirring constantly, until the stock evaporates enough so that it no longer pools in the gap when you pull the spoon through the rice.

Ingredients 1½ liters (61⁄3 cups) chicken stock 60 grams (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) olive oil 75 grams (½ cup plus 1 tablespoon) finely diced white onion 50 grams (1¾ ounces) bone marrow or 30 grams (1 ounce) pancetta, chopped (optional) 250 grams (1¼ cups) Carnaroli rice Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 125 milliliters (½ cup) dry white wine Pinch of saffron threads 25 grams (5 tablespoons) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano


Add more stock, just to cover the rice. Continue cooking, stirring, until the stock has evaporated to the same degree. Add more stock and continue this process until the rice is tender but still resistant at the core, 14 to 17 minutes. Add another ladleful of stock and remove from the heat. Add the remaining 30 grams (2 tablespoons) butter, cut into pieces, and the grated cheese, and stir vigorously (mantecare) to emulsify. The mixture should be creamy, but not soupy. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.



“Lombardy underwent various invasions prior to the formation of the Italian Republic. French and Austro-Hungarian cuisine left an important mark on local gastronomic culture.” —Chef Claudio Sadler of Ristorante Sadler and Chic’n Quick, Milan Lombardia is a large, landlocked region of northern Italy. It shares a border with Switzerland. The geography is varied: From the Alps, Lombardia stretches south to the Po River and into the fertile Pianura Padana (the Po River plain). Shared between Lombardia, Piemonte, the Veneto, and Emilia-Romagna, the plain is the center of Italy’s rice industry. Eastern Lombardia is distinguished by a series of lakes (Lago di Maggiore, Lago di Garda, Lago di Como). The Apennines are to the west. Milan is the capital of the region.

See our recipes for the regional specialties Risotto alla Milanese (facing page) and Ossobuco alla Milanese (page 189).

As in the neighboring regions of Piemonte and EmiliaRomagna, rice and corn are extremely important crops. (Vialone nano rice—for risotti—is grown in the province of Mantua, in Lombardia.) Risotto and polenta are staples. Rice is cooked in innumerable ways throughout the region, including in the famous saffron-infused risotto alla Milanese, in risotti garnished with seafood from Lake Como, and in soups. Cattle-breeding is an equally important industry, and Lombardia is a major producer of cheeses. The region

produces a relatively small amount of olive oil, and so the cuisine is historically marked by the use of butter, cream, and lard, and is heavily based on beef and veal dishes, such as ossobuco alla Milanese and breaded cotoletta alla Milanese. Lombardia’s pork industry is responsible for a selection of cured products, such as salami, pancetta, and cotechino, but curing is not limited to pork. A famous goose salami is produced in the town of Mortara, in the region of Pavia, for example, and the Alpine province of Valtellina, near Switzerland, produces an air-dried beef called bresaola. The lake area boasts dishes of freshwater fish, including lake shad, perch, pike, eel, and frog. Pasta dishes are traditionally homemade (pasta fresca). Mantua is celebrated for its pumpkin ravioli (tortelli di zucca) and meat-stuffed agnolini. Valtellina makes a predominantly buckwheat pasta called pizzoccheri, traditionally prepared with savoy cabbage, potatoes, sage, butter, and the local cow’s-milk cheese, bitto.


Chapter 12 Organ Meats: Frattaglie

Animelle Saltate (Sautéed Veal Sweetbreads with Moscato) Fegato alla Veneziana (Venetian-Style Liver and Onions) Trippa alla Parmigiana (Tripe Stew)

Organ meats, or offal (frattaglie), such as trotters, tongue, tripe, and sweetbreads have held an important place in Italian cuisine throughout history, in part because the more desirable cuts were reserved for the elite, while those who raised the animals for slaughter made do with what was left over. But offal was not disdained by the wealthy. In his Opera written in 1570, Bartolomeo Scappi includes numerous recipes for offal, including sweetbreads, kidneys, liver, brains, tongue, cow’s udder, and calf’s head. His recipes are not limited to beef and veal; one entry is entitled “To prepare every cut—that is, every part—of a goat and chamois”; he also recommends methods for cooking pig’s head, as well as the head of

a wild boar. In an earlier work, Libro de Arte Coquinaria (The Art of Cooking), the fifteenth-century Renaissance cookbook author Maestro Martino of Como also offers recipes for offal: Mutton’s head is poached and boned; veal and kid sweetbreads are made into an egg-rich “pottage.” And several centuries later, Pellegrino Artusi proposes recipes for beef tongue, goose liver, kidneys, tripe, sweetbreads, and “Lamb’s Liver and Offal Bolognese Style,” among other delicacies, in his cookbook La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well ). The recipes in this chapter demonstrate some classic preparations for calf’s liver, sweetbreads, and tripe. Le Tecniche In this chapter, students learn the fundamentals of preparing offal and apply techniques of sbianchire, saltare, and brasare covered in previous chapters. For a more complete discussion of offal, see pages 422–25.

Trippa alla Parmigiana (page 198)


Calabria “Some dishes in Calabrian cuisine are rooted in Arabic cuisine; they are similar, but they are prepared in a simpler fashion. Sweet and spicy approaches: ‘bewitched meat with a honey and hot pepper sauce.’” —Chef Gaetano Alia of La Locanda di Alia, Castrovillari–Cosenza Calabria is at the southernmost tip of the Italian peninsula, covering the toe of the Italian “boot.” The interior ranges from hills near the coast, to mountains inland, with the Apennines running down the center of the peninsula. To the north is Basilicata. Sicilia lies to the south, across the narrow Strait of Messina. The region’s capital is Catanzaro.

Swordfish recipes, especially prepared with capers, olives, and tomatoes, are popular all along the Tyrrhenian coast of Calabria. Our version, Pesce Spada all’Isolana, appears on page 230.

Calabria is one of Italy’s poorest regions. The cuisine relies on vegetables (tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, purple onions from Tropea, artichokes, asparagus, potatoes, peas, and beans), durum-wheat pastas, seafood, and pork. Hot chile peppers, peperoncini in particular, are an omnipresent seasoning. Nonetheless, Calabria is an important producer of olive oil and citrus fruits, particularly the IGP-classified Clementine di Calabria. The lemonlike citron (used in candied fruits) is grown near the coast; the region is

Combine the tomato, onion, fennel, garlic, white wine, vinegar, basil, and parsley in a saucepan (casseruola). Cut off the tips (about 8 centimeters / 3 inches) of the asparagus and reserve; cut the stems on an angle into 4-centimeter (1½-inch) lengths and add them to the pan. Add water to cover generously (about 1¼ liters / 5¼ cups), salt and black pepper to taste, and the red pepper flakes. Bring the water to a boil, cover and simmer (affogare) 15 minutes. Taste and season the broth with salt and black pepper.

also known for its figs. Calabria produces both red and white wines. Pork represents the region’s major source of meat, and it is preserved in hams and salami. Calabria maintains traditions of curing meats dating back to the ancient Greeks. Capocollo, pancetta, salsiccia, and soppressata from Calabria have gained DOP status. Goat- and sheep-farming are important industries, and cheeses from the milk of both animals are produced here, as well as the DOP-classified cow’s-milk cheese Caciocavallo Silano. The cuisine is rich in vegetable pastas, seafood, and soups. Specialties include local pasta shapes such as lagane (like fettuccine), ricci di donna, and capieddi’e prieviti. Other specialties of the region are melanzane alla Parmigiana (eggplant Parmesan), stuffed eggplant, and dishes made with locally caught swordfish and tuna.

Season the fish on both sides with salt. Add the fish and the reserved asparagus tips to the saucepan. Simmer gently (sobbollire) until the fish is cooked through, 4 to 5 minutes. Spoon the fish into shallow bowls and spoon the vegetables and some of the broth over. Serve drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil.





Pesce in Crosta di Sale Whole Fish Baked in a Salt Crust Serves 2

Mix the salt and egg whites until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand. Roast the fish:

Fish, lean meats (beef tenderloin, for example), and even potatoes can benefit from baking in a salt crust. The crust encourages the food to cook evenly, while keeping it moist. The salt in the crust also serves to season the food, while the egg whites seal the crust so that the steam doesn’t escape.

Preheat the oven to 191°C (375°F).

Here we use branzino and serve it with a sauce of lemon juice whisked with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Alternatively, the fish may be served with salmoriglio (page 233). Orata, snapper, or black bass would also be good choices.

Place the fish on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Completely cover the fish in the salt crust.

(See “Filleting a Cooked Roundfish for Service” on page 237 for step-by-step instructions for serving this dish.) Chef’s Notes

Make the salt crust:

Pat the fish dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper to taste. Place the rosemary inside the cavity, and line with the lemon slices. Rub the outside of the fish all over with oil.

Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and roast (arrostire) until the crust turns a light, golden brown, about 25 minutes. Serve immediately, or allow the fish to rest in the crust on the baking sheet at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving; the fish will remain warm.

Ingredients To serve:

The smallest size of fish that can be cooked by this method is one weighing 450 grams (about 1 pound). Smaller fish will overcook before the crust bakes through entirely. Aromatic elements such as herbs or citrus zest can be added to the salt crust to impart subtle flavors to the fish and provide a wonderful aroma.

For the salt crust: 675 grams (2¾ cups) coarse salt 6 to 8 large egg whites For the fish: 1 whole fish, about 450 grams (1 pound), such as branzino, gutted and scaled Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper 1 sprig fresh rosemary ½ lemon, sliced Extra-virgin olive oil Lemon juice

Cut around the circumference of the salt crust close to the bottom. Lift up like a hinge to expose the fish. Skin and remove the top fillet and place on a serving plate. Remove and discard the bone. Skin and remove the bottom fillet and place on another serving plate. Whisk together a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice, and salt and pepper, using 3 parts oil to 1 part lemon. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the fish drizzled with the sauce.


The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine Sample  

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine is a comprehensive guide to traditional Italian cooking. The book teaches the skills n...

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine Sample  

The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Italian Cuisine is a comprehensive guide to traditional Italian cooking. The book teaches the skills n...